Navigating Stress for a Healthy You

The past 12 months have been a period of adjustment and change for everyone in the United States. Your children and students have had to adjust to participating in school from home. You and your colleagues may have had to arrange more virtual calls and meetings to conduct business. It's even likely that the kitchen feels a little more crowded when you are trying to prepare family meals! A lot of these changes can be compounded by the challenge of the pandemic and other world events. With so many things being thrown at you, it can be easy to get flustered and retreat into yourself. April is known as Stress Awareness month and as you may know, stress shows itself in numerous forms physically and emotionally. It is important that you know what to look out for in order to manage your stress.

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress is self-measured in most cases and medical professionals may even use tools such as the Perceived Stress Scale where patients can rate their stress on a scale of one to ten. Because it is so often self-measured, it is important to know the many ways stress can manifest in your body. Often people experiencing high levels of stress display irritability or become irrational and indecisive; sometimes lashing out at loved ones and colleagues. In other cases, some stressed individuals may begin to experience normal or migraine headaches which may exacerbate the emotional behavior. Stress is certainly not limited to the things noted here and if left unchecked, these symptoms can contribute to other illnesses such as gastrointestinal distress, hypertension, weight loss or gain among many other illnesses. Listen to your body and share any concerns you may have about your mental health with your medical professional for the appropriate guidance.

Stress can often be alleviated by finding the stressors and working to reduce or eliminate them. If you or a loved one have trouble coping with your stress, it is recommended that you find a counselor or therapist to talk to. As Stress Awareness Month turns into Mental Heath Awareness Month, I want to remind you of some things you can do to reconnect with yourself and your community to destress.

  • Set some time aside in your week to communicate with friends and loved ones. Sometimes catching up can greatly affect your moods and it reminds those you care about that you are there for them.
  • Take a short walk or bike through your community and reconnect with nature. Visit an old favorite spot.
  • Practice focusing on breathing in times of stress at school, work, or home. Some may have a breathing focused app on their phone or smart watch.
  • Take a digital break by putting yourself or your family on a phone and television curfew. While it is important to know what is happening in your community and world, sometimes it can be overwhelming. Have designated times where you can unplug and relax throughout your day.

There are many resources available to help individuals and families manage stress. Your medical professional can also provide specific guidance based on your needs. You can connect with your local LSU AgCenter for additional tips on stress management!

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4/29/2021 8:09:08 PM
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